Whilst Malta is renowned as being a party island, with cheap flowing alcohol, countless beach parties, and an abundance of casinos, it is also an island founded on layers of history and cultural preservation. What initially attracted me to the Malta is their unique language. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic– a cultural bend of Arabic that was developed in Sicily and later introduced to Malta. It’s such an intricate language in which half of the vocabulary is derived from standard Italian and Sicilian, some English and Arabic.
The cultural infusion is not just encompassed in the language, but remnants of the vast empires that occupied Malta is evident from every day life to the monuments. Littered throughout Malta, I was surprised to see the traditional British phoneboxes and letterboxes.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Malta is in the European Union (subsequently, the currency is Euros– Malta adopted the Euros in 2008), the British have definitely left a stamp on their former colony with English being the second official language, cars driving of the left hand side of the road, and even the plug outlets are standard British.
Malta has a very different feel to many of the other destinations I have been to. Valletta has been named Europe’s capital of culture 2018, and walking through the streets you definitely feel how imbued the island is with its multifaceted culture, as my friend said, it does feel like you’ve been transported back into time. That said, I felt like there wasn’t much ‘to do’ in the sense of visiting museums, ‘great’ landmarks or monuments, but rather the edifying experience for me came from being immersed in the streets and the listening to the fluid language.
Our experience of public transport in Malta was on the whole good. There were a couple of instances when buses were delayed, but nothing too bad and of course this is to be expected anywhere. We used a tallinja card (the maltese version of an oyster card) which costed €15 for 12 single day journeys and we purchased this at the ticket office in Valletta. One ‘single’ journey was valid for 2 hours, which meant you could tap in to as many modes of public transport as you would like during the 2 hours and would only be charged one single fare. On top of that, you could share the card with as many people as you liked. So two people could tap in twice for two single fares, using just the one card which was really handy. Tickets could also be purchased on the bus at the price of €1.50 for a single fare and again, once purchased is valid for 2 hours on any mode of transport.
If you’re looking to book a taxi, we were advised by our Airbnb host that the cheapest and most reliable company is ecabs. Be careful with white cabs as they have a reputation for swindling people. If you do have to take a white cab make sure you agree on a price before hopping in and that you only pay when you reach your destination!